(The Center Square) – Iowa’s U.S. senators have signed onto a bipartisan bill to open the use of biofuels as gas prices hit record highs.
U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Republican, have signed onto the Home Front Energy Independence Act, which would ban Russian oil; make E15 available year-round; establish an E15 and Biodiesel Tax Credit; direct EPA to finalize an E15 labeling rule; and provide for biofuel infrastructure and compatibility with retailers, a news release from Ernst’s office said.
U.S. purchases of Russian oil would be fully restricted until the president determines Russia recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the release said. Current excess ethanol capacity domestically nearly equals the amount the U.S. had been importing from Russia (83 million barrels vs 87 million barrels), it said.
“As gas prices hit record highs for Americans across the country, it’s never been clearer that energy security is national security,” Ernst said. “Banning Russian oil was long overdue, but it’s far past time for President Biden to make good on the promises he made on the campaign trail to Iowa farmers and producers to support our state’s biofuel that is American-made, ready, and available to meet our nation’s needs right away.”
Grassley said in a news release that E-15 is being sold for $0.30 to $0.40 cents less than E-10 around Iowa and ethanol is selling at around a $1.20 discount to base gasoline.
The bill includes actions that were proposed in the Biofuel Infrastructure and Agricultural Product Market Expansion Act of 2021, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act and the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2021, Grassley’s release said.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb., cosponsored the bill.
Every member of Iowa’s Congressional delegation teamed up in a letter Tuesday urging Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan to promote biofuels to prioritize American energy independence in response to record fuel prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As conflict continues in the region, we urge the Biden administration to expand the production and potential export of domestic ethanol and biodiesel to meet global energy needs,” the letter said. “As a domestically produced, renewable fuel source, ethanol and other biofuels strengthen our national security and achieve the Administration’s climate goals. Bolstering our domestic energy production through policies that prioritize the increased use of America’s ethanol and other biofuels will ensure a reliable and stable source of energy for years to come.”
They said the policies will help the Biden Administration’s reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions and allowing allies to substitute Russian oil with ethanol will help reduce global emissions.